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Re: [GTh] John and Thomas

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  • sarban
    ... From: Rick Hubbard To: Sent: Monday, July 11, 2005 10:21 PM Subject: RE: [GTh] John and Thomas ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Jul 12, 2005
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      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Rick Hubbard" <rhubbard@...>
      To: <gthomas@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Monday, July 11, 2005 10:21 PM
      Subject: RE: [GTh] John and Thomas


      >
      <SNIP>
      >
      > [Andrew Wrote:]
      >
      > "c/ 150-175 CE the final revision of the Gospel of Thomas occurs. The
      > Gnostic esoteric elements in Thomas are increased and sayings linking
      > it to Thomas (eg the preface and saying 13) are added."
      >
      > This whole business of Thomas and "gnosticism" gives me the heebie-jeebies
      > since I've read Karen King's _What is Gnosticism_. I once thought I had a
      > grip on how one defines "gnosticism" but now, I'm not so sure. With that
      in
      > mind, Andrew, how would you like to take a try at describing what criteria
      > one might use to define "gnostic esoteric elements" in Thomas. I assure
      you
      > that I'm not being bull-headed about this- I truly would appreciate
      reading
      > a thoughtful exposition about the entire matter.
      >
      I'm uneasy about Karen King's book, it seems to shift between
      specific claims that for specific reasons 'Gnosticism' is an
      unusually problematic category, and general arguments that in
      post-modernist terms ALL categories are problematic and an
      expression of ideological agendas.

      By Gnosticism I mean the combination of a preoccupation with
      esoteric knowledge, together with a belief in an evil or ignorant
      or limited Creator/Demiurge.

      In concrete terms what I mean by the 'gnostic esoteric' layer in
      Thomas are mainly sayings 1, 2, 13, 18, 21, 22, 24, 37, 50, 61,
      67, 77, 83, 84, 108.

      (I've left out saying 28 which IMHO is probably part of the early
      material in Thomas and saying 114 which again IMHO may be a
      late addition.)

      The sort of material I'm trying to isolate in this layer is material that
      is not particularly Synoptic nor Jewish-Christian nor Encratite and
      which has some sort of similarity to material generally regarded as
      Gnostic,
      .
      (I've excluded a few sayings because I don't have any real idea
      what they mean.)

      The isolated material is clearly both concerned with esoteric
      knowledge and hostile to the physical material world. Whether
      it should be classed as genuinely 'Gnostic' is less clear. IMO it
      may depend upon whether one sees Thomas as having a coherent
      message or as being a collection of disparate and rather unrelated
      sayings.

      At the level of the individual saying, I doubt whether any specific
      saying can in isolation be shown to be genuinely Gnostic. (Saying
      50 is IMO among the most difficult to interpret in a non-Gnostic
      way.) However, If one treats Thomas as a whole and tries to
      connect it with some known 2nd century Christian trajectory, then
      it seems to be part of Gnosticism.

      (The alternative way of treating Thomas as a whole would probably
      be to class it as Encratite, but if one defines Encratism so as to
      emphasise ascetic practice rather than doctrinal heterodoxy then
      Thomas does not seem Encratite, whereas if you emphasise dualism
      in Encratism then Thomas can indeed be regarded as a Encratite
      work but at the price of blurring the line between Gnosticism and
      Encratism.)

      Andrew Criddle
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